Monday, March 08, 2021

The Feast of St Frances of Rome.

"You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?" (Matthew 18: 32 - 33).

Tuesday 9th March 2021, in the 3rd Week in Lent is the feast of St Frances of Rome. (1384 - 1440). Italian. A married woman who raised three children in the way of the Lord.  Frances became a Benedictine Oblate and founded a community of Oblates in the heart of Rome. Besides being a wife and mother, Frances was a mystic and very involved in charitable services in Rome. In Frances, we have a unique example of love in marriage as well as in religious life.

Our key Scripture for today deals with trespasses against us which are in our power to forgive. The "Wicked servant" in the NABRE translation is rendered by other versions as: wicked and contemptible slave, contemptible and wicked attendant, evil [wicked] servant [slave]!, You evil servant!, , ‘You scoundrel!

The other servants were deeply outraged by the unmerciful behavior of this servant. Various translators try to convey the feelings to us through the above characterizations. We live in a culture where unforgiveness is rampant.

Be that as may, one thing to note in today's Gospel is crucial: "I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to." What does this mean? The minimum price to pay for Divine Mercy is: ASK. This price is consistent throughout Sacred Scripture. Anyone who asks is forgiven. One who seeks forgiveness is embraced. The door is always open for one who knocks for forgiveness. This is Lent. A most favorable time for mercy and reconciliation. The ABC of Mercy is a tool to remind us of this great truth.

#1. Ask for Mercy.
#2. Be Merciful.
#3. Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, March 07, 2021

The Feast of St John of God.

"Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4: 27).

Monday 8th March 2021, in the 3rd Week in Lent is the feast of St John of God. (1495 - 1550). Religious. Born Portuguese. Worked and died in Spain. A prodigal of some sort in his younger days. Once he was converted at the age of 40, everything changed. He became fired up with ministry to the poor and the sick. John was a man of many talents and at various times became farmer, soldier and merchant. I knew St John of God as a pamphleteer because at the time I first read his biography, I used pamphlets for evangelization. He became my patron saint and is still one of my patron saints.
St John of God is the patron saint of hospitals, nurses, booksellers, pamphleteers.

Our key Scripture for today touches on the profundity of how God works in the world otherwise called the Divine Providence, Divine Plan, Design, Blueprint. Naaman the Syrian is so unlike our saint, John of God. Naaman is a great soldier, like a Field Marshall. He is of the stature of Ike Eisenhower but Naaman was a leper. The story of his cure in the first Reading (2 Kings 5: 1 - 5) is my favorite story in the Bible.

Naaman was Syrian and not Jewish. Yet God extended His merciful love to Naaman and healed him of leprosy.
St John of God was a Portuguese vagrant. God called him to live in Spain where he worked and founded the Order of Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God still serving the Church today.

"Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word, because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. (Psalm 129: 5, 7).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, March 06, 2021

With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation.

"Jesus answered and said to her [the Samaritan Woman]'  "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4: 10).

Sunday 7th March 2021, in the 3rd Week in Lent.

Jesus talks with the Samaritan Woman in the Gospel for this Sunday. Human thirst like hunger can be unbearable. The People of Israel grumbled against God and Moses in the desert when they were tormented by thirst. (Cf Exodus 17: 3). It is thirst that brought the Samaritan Woman to the Well.

What are you thirsting for today? Jesus helped the Samaritan Woman to develop a thirst for the Big Gift of God.
"With joy you will draw water from the fountains of salvation." (Isaiah 12: 3).
Water is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. God promises us a big Gift, a wonderful Gift in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is so unlike anything we know of. This is how Jesus characterizes the Big Gift:

"Jesus answered and said to her [the Samaritan]  “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13 - 14 ).

Every Christian who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit has testified that the Big Gift of God exceeds all expectations. Go for the Big Gift. Be fired up by the Holy Spirit.  To learn more about the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/10/gifts-fruits-of-holy-spirit-and.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, March 05, 2021

The Prodigal Son is still in Jail after 8 years!

"You must rejoice, my son,
for your brother was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found." (Luke 15: 32)

Saturday 6th March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

Are you one of those that feign ignorance of the spirit of Unforgiveness and insane desire for vengeance and retribution in our culture?
A young white male now in his early 30 was caught stealing an inexpensive object about eight years ago. Unfortunately for him, that was his second offense. He is still in jail. The mom, sister to a close friend mourns for him every day. His parole has been opposed by Christians. "He must learn his lesson."

Let us rejoice sister and brother. "Our brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”  It is appropriate to make merry. Do not resent Abba Father because He shows mercy to outrageous sinners.

We must believe firmly in God’s plan of salvation for all people.
I ask you:
What is the significance of the ring, sandals, and robe, the Father of the Prodigal gave to the son? They are symbols of full restoration. What God has restored, you must not dare to condemn.

Abba Father is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in mercy.

To learn more about the Father's merciful love, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/09/abba-father.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

COMPENDIUM OF CATHOLIC TEACHINGS

THE COMPENDIUM OF CATHOLIC TEACHINGS 

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Catholic Treasurers III 

(Can you please share and send this to any Catholic or any Catholic group you know).

1) LEVELS OF CARDINALS:

a. Cardinal deacon

b. Cardinal priest

c. Cardinal bishop

2) CATEGORIES OF CHURCHES:

a. Mission

b. Out Station

c. Parish

d. Cathedral (Vicariate-diocese-archdiocese)

e. Basilica

3) CATEGORIES OF PRIESTS:

a. Diocesan priest

b. Societan priest (e.g: MSP, SPS, SMA etc)

c. Religious priest (Augustinians, Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Spiritans etc) 

4) HIERACHY OF THE CHURCH

a. Lay Faithfuls

b. Deacons

c. Priests/religious

d. Bishops

e. Arch-bishops

f. Cardinals

e. Pope (The Vicar of Christ Jesus on Earth)

5) MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH:

a. Cantors

b. Lectors

c. Acolytes 

d. Choir

e. Deacon

f. Priests/religious

g. Bishops

h. Cardinals

i. Pope

6) CATEGORIES OF BISHOPS:

a. Auxiliary Bishop

b. Co-adjustor Bishop

b. Bishop

e. Arch-bishop

7) Categories of Religious:

a. Monks (men)-Nuns (women)

b. Mendicants

c. Hermits

d. Seculars

😎 THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES:

a. Faith

b. Hope

c. Charity

9) TYPES OF PRAYER: 

a. Liturgical prayers: Holy Mass, Divine Office etc.

b. Non-liturgical prayers: Holy Rosary, Prayers to Saints and Angels, private prayers etc.

POSTURES OF PRAYER:

a. Standing

b. Sitting

c. kneeling

d. bowing (it could be simple or deep)

e. genuflecting (it could be single or double)

f. laying 

11) SINS AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST:

a. Presumption

b. Despair

c. Resisting the known truth

d. Envy of another’s spiritual good

e. Obstinacy in sin

f. Final impenitence

12) SINS THAT CRY OUT TO HEAVEN:

a. Willful murder

b. The sin of Sodomy

c. Oppression of the poor

d. Defrauding laborers of their wages

13) CONDITIONS FOR MORTAL SIN:

a. Grave matter

b. Full knowledge

c. Deliberate consent

14) WAYS WE CAN PARTICIPATE IN OTHER PEOPLE’S SINS:

a. By counsel

b. By command

c. By consent

d. By provocation

e. By praise or flattery

f. By concealment

g. By partaking

h. By silence

i. By defense of the ill done

15) THE TEN COMMANDMENTS:

a. Thou shall not have other gods besides Me

b. Thou shall not say the Name of the Lord thy God in vain

c. Remember to keep holy the Lord ’s Day

d. Honor thy father and thy mother

e. Thou shall not murder

f. Thou salt not commit adultery (all forms of sexual immoralities are included: masturbation, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, rape, lust etc).

g. Thou shall not steal

h. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor

i. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife

j. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods

16) THE GREATEST COMMANDMENTS:

a. To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength.

b. To love thy neighbor as thyself.

17) THE EVANGELICAL COUNSELS:

a. Voluntary poverty

b. Perpetual chastity

c. Entire obedience.

18) THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH/ DUTIES OF A CATHOLIC:

a. To go to Holy Mass and refrain from servile work on Sundays and holy days

b. To go to Confession at least once a year (traditionally done during Lent)

c. To receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter Season (known as the "Easter duty")

d. To observe the days of fasting and abstinence

e. To help to provide for the needs of the Church according to one's abilities and station in life

f. To obey the marriage laws of the Church

19) THE POWERS OF THE SOUL:

a. Memory

b. Intellect

c. Will

20) THE PILLARS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH:

a. The Apostles Creed

b. The Seven Sacraments

c. The Ten Commandments

d. The Lord's Prayer

e. The Holy Mass

f. The Holy Rosary

g. The intercession of God’s Angels and Saints

21) PILLARS OF THE CHURCH'S AUTHORITY:

a. Sacred Scripture

b. Sacred Tradition

c. Living Magisterium

22). The Munera (Duties of the Ordained):

a. Munus docendi (duty to teach, based on Christ's role as Prophet)

b. Munus sanctificandi (duty to sanctify, based on Chris's role as Priest)

c. Munus regendi (duty to shepherd, based on Christ's role as King)

23) THE LEVELS OF THE CHURCH:

a. The Church Militant (Christians on Earth)

b. The Church Suffering (Christians in Purgatory)

c. The Church Triumphant (Christians in Heaven)

24) THE MARKS OF THE CHURCH:

a. Unity

b. Sanctity

c. Catholicity

d. Apostolicity

25) THE 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL IN ORDER OF THEIR BIRTH:

a. Reuben

b. Simeon

c. Levi

d. Judah

e. Zabulon

f. Issachar

g. Dan

h. Gad

i. Asher

j. Naphtali

k. Joseph (Menasseh and Ephraim)

l. Benjamin

26) THE BEATITUDES:

a. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

b. Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.

c. Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.

d. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

e. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

e. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

g. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

h. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

27) THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS:

a. Jesus is Condemned to Die

b. Jesus is Made to Bear His Cross

c. Jesus Falls the First Time

d. Jesus Meets His Mother

e. Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

f. Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face

g. Jesus Falls the Second Time

h. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

i. Jesus Falls the Third Time

j. Jesus is Stripped

k. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

l. Jesus Dies on the Cross

m. Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

n. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

28) THE 20 MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY ROSARY:

JOYFUL (Mondays and Saturdays):

a. Annunciation

b. Visitation

c. Nativity

d. Presentation

e. Finding Jesus in the Temple

LUMINOUS: (Thursdays)

a. Baptism of Jesus.

b. Manifestation of Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana.

c. Proclamation of the kingdom of God.

d. The Transfiguration.

e. The institution of the Holy Eucharist

SORROWFUL (Tuesdays and Fridays):

a. Agony in the Garden

b. The Scourging

c. Crowning with thorns

d. Carrying of the Cross

e. Crucifixion

GLORIOUS (Wednesdays and Sundays):

a. Resurrection

b. Ascension

c. Pentecost

d. Assumption

e. Coronation 

NB: Throughout the Lenten season, the Sorrowful Mysteries is to be prayed only.

29) CHOIRS OF ANGELS IN ASCENDING ORDER:

a. Angels

b. Archangels

c. Principalities

d. Powers

e. Virtues

f. Dominions

g. Thrones

h. Cherubim

i. Seraphim

30) LEVELS OF REVERENCE:

a. Dulia: the reverence we give to Saints

b. Hyperdulia: the reverence we give to Mary as the greatest of Saints and Mother of God

c. Latria: the reverence and worship we give to God alone

31) THE 14 HOLY HELPERS:

1. St. George, Martyr, April 23

2. St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, February 3

3. St. Pantaleon, Martyr, July 27

4. St. Vitus, Martyr, June 15

5. St. Erasmus (Elmo), Bishop and Martyr, June 2

6. St. Christopher, Martyr, July 25

7. St. Giles, Abbot, September 1

8. St. Cyriacus (Cyriac), Martyr, August 8

9. St. Achatius, Martyr, May 8

10. St. Dionysius (Denis), Bishop and Martyr, October 9

11. St. Eustachius (Eustace), Martyr, September 20

12. St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr, November 25

13. St. Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr, July 20

14. St. Barbara, Virgin and Martyr, December 4

32) THE 7 LAST WORDS OF CHRIST:

a. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

b. Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

c. Woman, behold thy son. . . .Behold thy mother. (John 19:26-27)

d. Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? (My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) (Matthew 27:46, ref. Psalm 21)

e. I thirst. (John 19:28)

f. It is consummated.(John 19:30)

g. Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46, ref. Psalm 30:6)

33) THE 4 LAST THINGS (THE NOVISSIMA):

a. Death

b. Judgment

c. Heaven

d. Hell

34) THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY:

a. To feed the hungry

b. To give drink to the thirsty

c. To clothe the naked

d. To shelter the homeless

e. To visit the sick

f. To visit the imprisoned

g. To bury the dead

35) THE SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY:

a. To counsel the doubtful

b. To instruct the ignorant

c. To admonish sinners

d. To comfort the sorrowful

e. To forgive all injuries/offenses

f. To bear wrongs patiently

g. To pray for the living and the dead

36) CLASSES OF GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT KNOWN AS CHARISMATA:

a. Teaching

b. Faith

c. Grace of healing

d. Apostleship

e. Prophecy

37) THE SACRAMENTS:

a. Baptism

b. Confirmation/Chrismation

c. Holy Eucharist

d. Penance (Confession/Reconciliation)

e. Holy Matrimony

f. Holy Order

g. Anointing of the Sick

40) THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

a. Wisdom

b. Understanding

c. Counsel

d. Fortitude

e. Knowledge

f. Piety

g. Fear of the Lord

41) THE THREE EMINENT GOOD WORKS:

a. Prayer

b. Fasting

c. Alms-giving

42) FRUITS OF THE HOLY GHOST:

a. Charity

b. Joy

c. Peace

d. Patience

e. Benignity

f. Goodness

g. Longanimity

h. Mildness

i. Faith

j. Modesty

k. Continency

l. Chastity

43) CARDINAL VIRTUES:

a. Prudence

b. Justice

c. Fortitude

d. Temperance

44) LITURGICAL SEASONS:

a. Advent

b. Christmas

c. Ordinary Time

d. Lent 

e. Easter

45) THE APOSTLES OF JESUS AND HOW THEY DIED:

a. Matthew: Killed by a sword in Ethiopia.

b. Mark:  He was dragged by horses in Alexandria-Egypt through the streets until he was dead.

c. Luke: Was hanged in Greece.

d. John:  Though he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil in Rome; yet he miraculously did not die has the result but late become the only Apostle to die naturally.

e. Peter: was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to the Church Tradition, it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

f. James: He was beaten to death with a fuller's club.

g. James the Son of Zebedee: He was beheaded at Jerusalem. 

h. Bartholomew: Known as Nathaniel also, was martyred in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

i. Andrew: He was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras-Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' 

j. Thomas: He was stabbed with a spear.

k. Jude: was killed with arrows.

l. Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot was stoned and then beheaded.

m. Paul: He was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D 67. 

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From CATHOLIC WORLD in WHATSAPP 

Thursday, March 04, 2021

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

"Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’?" (Matthew 21: 42).

Friday 5th March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the First Friday in March.

I had an unforgettable experience with our key Scripture for today: "The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." In the first experience, this was quoted to me by the Head of Personnel of a large company when he handed me a letter of promotion. The background was this: After a period of internationalization, everyone believed an immediate promotion was in the works for me. It never came till five years later.

The second experience with this Scripture came when the job was gone after three years. A regional manager I had known not too well quoted the Scripture to me when he learned I was no longer with the company. This key Scripture is a Messianic prophecy applying to Jesus.

What am I to make of this Scripture? God wants us to understand a central truth of Salvation. This truth is called Divine Providence. It can be understood as Divine Plan, Blueprint, Purpose, Design. God governs all things from Beginning to End through His Divine Providence. We see it in our first Reading today. Joseph was sold by his siblings and ended up in Egypt as a slave. This seemingly blind act of jealousy was part of God's Plan to save the family of Jacob and make Joseph the Prince of Egypt.

The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus was all part of God's plan for the salvation of humanity. This plan  was conceived long ago and faithfully executed. The doctrine of Divine Providence has been called the most beautiful and comforting doctrine in the Deposit of Faith.

Mary answered: Be it done to me according to Your Plan. And the Word became Flesh.

What does the Church teach on Divine Providence? To find out, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2021/03/the-church-on-divine-providence.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

The Church on Divine Providence.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church :

321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf.Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps55:23).

323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

SeekFirstcommunity.com

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this First Friday, March 5th.

March 5th, First Friday in March, 2021.

Jesus promised 12 special graces and favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 3rd month of the year 2021, we look at Promise #3.

#3.  "I will console them in all their troubles."

In Promise #3, Jesus does not promise a trouble free life.  "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16: 33 ). Consider also:
"My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal." (Sirach 2: 1).

Troubles are opportunity to grow spiritually.  "I promise to be your strength in proportion to the trust you place on Me." The more you trust Jesus, the more He is your comfort, strength and security in trials.

Remind the Lord often of these promises. Remind Him also of His promise to answer every prayer. (Matthew 7: 7).

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of March, 2021.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/08/12-promises-of-sacred-heart-of-jesus.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Poland, St Casimir.

"He [former rich man] said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." (Luke 16: 30).

Thursday 4th March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the feast of St Casimir (1458 - 1484). Son of King Casimir IV of Poland and Lithuania. Casimir refrained from the court life. His siblings, the princes and princesses were not interested in religion.  His faith and piety shone out. Casimir had a great devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St Casimir is the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.

Imagine yourself at a Sunday Mass where the Preacher is someone who died three months ago and came back to life after a week in the grave.  You listen with wrap attention as he speaks of what he saw of heaven and hell. How would this experience affect your faith? You become more devout? More Eucharist and Confession? More sensitivity to the poor and afflicted?
If you say Yes to this query, Abraham will say to you point blank:  Man, you are not serious!

The Pharisees and the Religious elites challenged Jesus to climb down from the Cross and they would believe in Him and become His followers. We know what happened. They never believed Him. They never became His followers. Instead, they persecuted His followers.

What is the import of today's Scripture verse?
We have everything we need to become strong Christians from the word of God preached daily in the churches and from the witness of the saints living in our midst.

O man, "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5: 14).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

What do you desire? What do you want?

“What do you wish?” (Matthew 20: 21).

Wednesday 3rd March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the feast of St Katharine Drexel (1858 - 1955). Virgin and Religious Nun. American. Educator and Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Her passion for the education of Indians, Colored and Black people translated in opening mission schools. She founded Xavier University in New Orleans. By the time she was taken home for her eternal rewards, more than 500 of her sisters were teaching in 63 schools.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus asked the mother of James and John:  “What do you wish?” What if Jesus asks you today, Lent day 2021: What do you want? What is your desire? Some might answer:
a. Important position like Treasurer or finance minister.
b. Great family.
c. Great health.
d. Billions of dollars.
e. Great estate.

Desires are very important revelator of who we are. St Ignatius Loyola, the creator of the Spiritual Exercises writes that Desire makes a man. Therefore watch your desires. The senses are the gateways to desire into the heart. Watch what you admit.

If you allow the Holy Spirit to transform your mind and heart through His word, He transforms your desires at the same time. You no longer desire the things the world desires that make you conform to the thinking and habits of this world. You have a new heart and a new mind enabled to discern the will of God in everything. This will empower you to prove to yourself and your friends that the will of God /plan of God for you is the best possible thing.

"Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire." (Psalm 37: 4).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, March 01, 2021

Humility by Example.

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23: 12).

Tuesday 2nd March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

Today, the lesson from our key Scripture is humility. What is humility? Here is a definition by example:
+ Jesus Christ is humility.
+ St. Mary is humility.
+ St Martin de Poress is humility.
+ St Brother Andre is humility.

How about me? I was sharing faith experience with a prayer partner, when he told me that he was reading a book on humility. Why? I asked. "Everybody thinks I am very proud!" I laughed aloud and he wondered why I found the idea amusing. I answered: "Because over 75% of people who know me tell me in my face that I am proud, arrogant, vain, haughty, etc." I added with a laugh: "They just don't think but they tell me to my face." How did I handle this liability, he wanted to know. I have many patron saints. I wrote down those whose humility impressed me like the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed to them daily to obtain the grace of humility for me. Prayer  always seems to me a direct way to obtain spiritual gifts than study. Today I am not bothered about what people call me or think of me. I am not bothered whether I am raised to honor or humbled or cast down. Thank You Jesus for your merciful love.

JESUS-EMMANUEL I trust in Your merciful love. I do not depend on my filthy works. I surrender myself completely to You. Take care of everything Your way according to Your Plan and Providence for me?

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Be merciful as Abba Father is merciful to you.

"Be merciful, as your Father is merciful, says the Lord." (Luke 6: 36).

Monday 1st March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

Jesus urges us to show pity on others, to be tender, compassionate, forgiving just as Abba Father treats us.

How is Father merciful to us?
A few examples from the Scriptures:

#1. Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts,
Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills." (Psalm 103: 2 - 3).

#2." The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!"
(Lamentations 3: 22 - 23).

#3.
“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your covenant and show mercy toward those who love you and keep your commandments and your precepts!" (Daniel 9: 4).

The Scriptures have been constant in showing us that our God is the Father of mercies and the God of all consolations. He waits for the sinner to come home as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

What does this God of mercy expect from His children? He expects three things that can be summarized under the acronym of ABC of Mercy:
#A: Ask for mercy.
#B: Be merciful.
#C: Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

Jesus is the face of mercy of God the Father.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Why we must listen to the Son.

 "Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is  my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9: 7).

Sunday 28th February 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

In today's Gospel of the Transfiguration, Abba Father acknowledged His Son Jesus as the dearly Beloved and urged us to listen to Him always and obey Him. 
What is the import of the Transfiguration in the ministry of Jesus? 
"The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ's glorious coming, when he "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body." But it also recalls that "it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God" (CCC 556).

How do we fulfill the command of the Father to always listen to His Beloved Son? 
#1. We listen to His voice in the Scriptures and obey it. 
#2. We listen to the Bishops and obey them.  "Jesus concluded his instructions to the seventy with these words: “Remember this: Whoever listens to your message is actually listening to me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me, and not only me but the one who sent me.” (Cf Luke 10: 16 TPT).

What is your experience of listening to Jesus? What do you hear? Has what you heard impacted your life?

“So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. (Matthew 6: 33 TPT).

When I heard the above Scripture, I was totally captivated by it. I wrote it everywhere. I used SeekFirst +  as a business name. Today it is SeekFirstcommunity.com that hosts the Daily Bible Verse.

Listening to Jesus and obeying Him can change your life. Don't be afraid to try.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Love your friends but do not hate your enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." (Matthew 5: 43).

Saturday 27th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

To love your friends and hate those who hate you, a child might not have heard from anyone. The behavior is natural to fallen human nature. But as Christians, have you not heard:  "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

Jesus challenges us to be different from the world:
"Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes." (Romans 12: 2 TPT).

If you are today conforming to the habits and customs of the world, realize that on your own, you can never break out of this prison. The Holy Spirit, your Helper and Advocate is standing by to help you. He accomplishes this transformation when you become faithful and constant in daily prayer and daily nourishment with the word of God.

How long will it take for this transformation to happen? It depends on the intensity of your desire and the constancy of your prayer and study of the word of God. To those who manifest a great hunger for God, more will be given them. To those who are lukewarm, the little they have will be snatched from them.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I take no pleasure in the death of a sinner.

"Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?" (Ezekiel 18: 23).

Friday 26th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

Is there a common thread in the Eucharistic Scriptures today? I would say Sin and Reconciliation. What would life be if the world is full of vice and iniquity without the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation?

In the fullness of time, after waiting for the Father's signal to indicate the fullness of time to start His ministry, Jesus put His meagre belongings in a backpack and headed for the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist.

Why is Baptism the first act of Jesus' ministry? The answer is in the very first words Jesus uttered in His ministry. "At last the fullness of time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the GoodNews." (Cf Mark 1: 15).

So we see a direct connection between Sin and the GoodNews. (Salvation). No repentance, No GoodNews. No Salvation.

When we hear the call of Jesus and repent, we are baptized. The Baptism wipes out all the sins we have committed, restores us to friendship with God and makes us members of the the Christian community.

What if we commit sins after our Baptism? Jesus anticipated this in instituting the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why is the Sacrament of Reconciliation necessary after Baptism?

"The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation: • sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed," teaches the Church.

"It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church." (CCC 980).

To make the most of this great Sacrament, spend some time in prayer and examination of conscience. For a sample of an Examination of Conscience, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/09/a-good-examination-of-conscience.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Learn how to pray from Queen Esther.

"Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7: 8).

Thursday 25th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent. 

I noted many years ago in my Roman Missal that Thursday in the 1st Week in Lent is the "Thursday of Ask and Receive." Why? Because in my opinion, the Scripture Readings today bring together the theory and practice of Prayer. Consider the first Reading from the Book of Easter. What do we learn about Prayer? 
#1. Condition for Prayer. 
#2. Posture of Prayer. 
#3. Length of Prayer. 
#4. Confidence in Prayer. 

I like the topic of Prayer. I am a student of Prayer. I pray a lot. Practically every good thing I have in life, I have received through Prayer. I pray more than I work. When I teach RCIA, I pray about 60% of the time for inspiration and power, light and guidance and the success of the class and work less than 40% in course preparation. 

Prayer is a great gift and anybody can have this gift if you ask for it. 
Jesus promises that when you pray with persistence, you receive what you ask for provided what you ask for is in line with God's will for you. God is a loving and wise Father. No father will give a 12 year old son a BMW Super Bike of 350 miles per hour for a birthday present. Only an insane parent would do that. 
Therefore when you pray, remember this word of God:

"And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours" (1 John 5: 14-15). 

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts. To what can we compare Jesus teaching on Prayer? It can only be compared to the unveiling of the secret of the good life. 
"Seek first the kingdom of God and the holiness of life above every other thing. Then ask and you shall receive." (Cf Matthew 6: 33). 

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

There will be no more signs for you.

"While still more people gathered in the crowd, he [Jesus] said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah." (Luke 11: 29).

Wednesday 24th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

In the first Reading, Jonah preached to the Ninivites and shared the testimony of his stay in the belly of the whale. The people and their king heard the message. They believed and repented.
St Paul preached to the Greeks in the Areopagus. They listened attentively but did not believe.

Jesus told the crowd today:  No more miracles for you. You keep looking for a big sign from heaven to prove that I am the Messiah. But what happened to Jonah is the only sign you will get.

My friends, where are you today in your spiritual walk? Are you still looking for more signs? Listen to what Abraham said to Dives, the former rich man who denied Lazarus the least sign that his life matters.
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." (Luke 16: 31).

We have in the Church all the signs we need. The Church of the living God is the sign of salvation. This Church subsists in the One, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. This Church has visible structures. It exists in almost every country in the world. The Church has one Shepherd, one Liturgy and holds the entire Deposit of Faith.

What more are we looking for? There will be no more signs till the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Feast of St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr.

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.... If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6: 12...14 - 15).

Tuesday 23rd February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent is the feast of an Apostolic Father, St Polycarp. (circa 69 - 155). Bishop of Smyrna in Turkey. Martyr. St Polycarp was instructed in the faith by St John the Apostle. He, Polycarp instructed St Irenaeus who became a Bishop and an early Church Father in France.

I hope my critics will not roast me alive as St Polycarp was roasted alive and finished off by swords when I make the statement below on our key Scripture for today:
MORE PEOPLE GO TO HELL BECAUSE OF UNFORGIVENESS THAN FOR ABORTION, ADULTERY, FORNICATION, LIES AND DEFAMATION, TAX EVASION, ETC.
Please leave a gentle comment. (Cf CCC 523). This is Lent. 

How do you deal with UNFORGIVENESS? This is what has worked for me:
#1. I try to forgive immediately. I try to forgive everyone: No discrimination as to sex, age, status, race or religion. No discrimination as to nature of offense.
#2. I pray for the offender: Father, forgive her for she knows not what she has done to me.
#3. Father, grant the grace to all the multitude that I have offended to forgive me.
#4. I perform this ritual every single morning during morning prayer. I finish by claiming the sweet peace of Christ.

"When I called, the God of justice gave me answer; from anguish you released me; have mercy, O Lord, and hear my prayer!" (Psalm 4: 2).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16: 13 - 15).

Monday 22nd February 2021, Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle.

What are we celebrating today?
+ The Papacy.
+ The Pope as Bishop of Rome.
+ St Peter, the Chairman of the Church and his successors to the Chair of St Peter.
+ The Teaching Authority of the Popes.
+ The universal Magisterium of the Roman Church.
+ The unity of the Church founded upon the Apostle Peter and his successors.

To the question of Jesus: Who do people say I am?
"Peter said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus replied: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 16, 18).

Let us pray today especially for our Holy Father Pope Francis and for the unity of the Church.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Holy Spirit rushed Jesus to the Desert for Spiritual Combat.

"The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." (Mark 1: 12 - 13).

Sunday 21st February 2021, 1st Sunday of Lent.

Today's short Gospel from Mark (Mark 1: 12 - 15) is packed with spiritual food. Let us consider the key words in our key Scripture for today:
#1. The Holy Spirit: He drove Jesus into the Desert, that is, He compelled Jesus to head to the Desert after His Baptism.
#2. Desert: A place of spiritual combat inhabited by wild beasts.
#3. Satan: The principal antagonist who tempts Jesus and employs the wild beasts.
#4. 40 Days: Critical duration for the Desert experience, the Struggle. Reminds us of Israel's 40 years in the Desert, Moses and Elijah's 40 days fasting.
#5. Wild beasts: A symbol of unsavory characters that haunt the "deserts" of this world. The Prodigal Son was in the abode of wild beasts.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert is a key Scripture in Lent to remind us of the real spiritual warfare we are engaged in day after day.

In the early days of my conversion, I heard this Scripture read from the lectern in a Sunday Mass:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
"Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12: 5 - 7).

I left the Mass very happy because I came to understand what was going on in my life. God was not destroying me. He was training me as a son. I emerged from the School of the Desert a couple of years later equipped with this 7-Way Plan to live the Christian life:
#1. Prayer.
#2. Word of God.
#3. Eucharist.
#4. Penance.
#5. Examen.
#6. Ministry.
#7. Spiritual Reading.

Jesus showed me the Way: the 7-Way Plan.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, February 19, 2021

Light shall rise for you in the darkness.

"Thus says the Lord: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." (Isaiah 58: 9 - 10).

Saturday, 20th February 2021, Saturday after Ash Wednesday.

The Bible, God's own Book teaches us about God's mercy and loving kindness. The Church proclaims loudly that the holy Season of Lent is the time of salvation, the favorable season for God to pour out His goodness to His children who are prepared to receive.

Let us consider the promises in the first Reading from Isaiah. There is no doubt that there is darkness and gloom in the world today. The pandemics does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Governments all over the world are jittery. Banks and stock markets are sitting on edge. In all this commotion, the Creator of the universe makes a promise that cannot fail:

#1. Light shall rise for you in the darkness.
#2.  The gloom shall become for you like midday.
#3. The Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land.
#4. He will renew your strength.
#5. You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

There are more promises in Isaiah 58: 9 - 14. You may be tempted to think: Can all this be true? Yes of course if you fulfill the conditions which are not difficult:

#1. Stop oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.
#2. Share your bread with the hungry.
#3. Comfort the afflicted.
#4. Do not mess with the Lord's Day, Sunday.

Father, be merciful and consider our weakness. Help us with your loving power and merciful love for without You, we can do nothing.

The Church helps us know what is pleasing to God by giving us the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. To see the Works of Mercy, click the link below:
http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/11/works-of-mercy.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Fasting is not an optional tool in the Christian arsenal.

"Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!" (Isaiah 58: 4).

Friday 19th February 2021, Friday after Ash Wednesday.

Friday is the traditional day of fasting. It is not a coincidence that the first Reading from Isaiah and the Gospel from Matthew today deal with fasting.  You surely know as a Christian that fasting is not optional as part of the armor of living the Christian life. Is there a good way to fast and unacceptable way?

In Isaiah 58, God says that there is an unacceptable way to fast:
"Even when you fast, you argue and fight and ·hit each other with your  wicked/sinful fists. You cannot do these things as you do now and ·believe your prayers are [expect to be] heard ·in heaven [on high]. (Isaiah 58: 4 EXB).
To decode the above:  Fasting and sinning are incompatible. Any fasting done without a repentant heart is useless. The fasting that appears to be recommended here is fasting and the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Jesus adds an important note on fasting:  "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Matthew 6: 17 - 18).

Listen to God to find out the type of fasting that is acceptable to Him. Pursue His will and not yours.
"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits" (Isaiah 58: 3).

To see the Works of Mercy, click the link below:
http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/11/works-of-mercy.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Apostles forgot three predictions of the Passion and Death of Jesus the Messiah.

"Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9: 22 - 23).

Thursday 18th February 2021, Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus made the first prediction of His passion and death. Sad to say, this prediction was rejected by those who heard it and blotted it out of their memory so to speak. They decided to believe what they wanted to believe which of course is falsehood. Accept it or reject it, it is a divine necessity that the Messiah must suffer many things.

The world today is saturated by false doctrines, massive deceptions and fake news. Even the Church, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3: 15) is not spared. Have you heard the phrase: "The smoke of Satan has infiltrated the Church."

Be on your guard. Watch and pray always that you too will not be deceived. If the Apostles could forget three predictions of the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus, who are you to pretend that you are so strong that nothing can shake you?

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  This is Lent. Pray to understand this Scripture.
The follower of Jesus Christ whose desire is to do the will of God is destined for rejection, suffering and even death. But if he perseveres, he is promised Resurrection.

"Father, in Your will is our peace."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

You are dust and will return to dust: Ash Wednesday 2021.

"Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return."

Welcome to Ash Wednesday 2021, the beginning of the holy Season of Lent. Let us reflect on four key messages from today's Ash Wednesday Scripture Readings and note the messages.

#1. "Yet even now—oracle of the Lord—return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment." (Joel 2: 12 - 13).

#2. " A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me." (Psalm 51: 12 - 13).

#3. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5: 20).

#4. "When you give alms..." (Matthew 6: 2).
“When you pray ... " (Matthew 6: 5).
"But when you fast..."
..(Matthew 6: 6).

Conclusion: Lent is about Metanoia, Conversion. Lent is about turning back to God through almsgiving, fasting and prayer. Lent is about evangelization through being ambassador for Christ.
Finally, Lent is about emerging at Easter with a holy, steadfast and new spirit.

The 40 day period of Lent is God's gift to us to become New Creation.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 15, 2021

What not to forget.

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember?" (Mark 8: 17 - 18).

Tuesday 16th February 2021, in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time is Ash Wednesday eve, Mardi Gras.

Each of the questions Jesus fired off to his dull disciples can wake us up to faith and dispose us to understand sacred things and grow in grace in Lent 2021.
#1. "Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
#2. Are your hearts hardened?
#3. Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
#4. And do you not remember?"

The background to the event: Almost immediately after Jesus fed 4000 people, the disciples were worrying that they had forgotten to bring food. Consider this analogy:
After Jesus had healed someone of cancer, he starts to worry about headache. Am I going to die?

#1. Do you not yet understand or comprehend that He who heals you of cancer can heal you of anything? He can even raise you from the grave.

#2. Are your hearts hardened?
Unbelief is often caused by a hardened heart. Unrepentant sin hardens the heart.

#3. Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
When your eyes do not see the wonderful things God is doing for you every day, your ears shut to the joyful sounds of His presence all around you, this is another sign of a hardened heart.

#3. And do you not remember?
Nothing is more tragic than forgetfulness of God's mercies to you. It is like a man who forgets the password to his smart phone. The phone has to be reset and everything wiped out: the memory and every data.

The only way you grow in the knowledge, love and friendship with God is to remember what He has done for you; what He is doing for you. You remember and give thanks. You grow in trust.

"The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." (John 14: 26).

The above Scripture changed how I handle memories of God's wonderful deeds in my life. In my morning prayer every day, I petition the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the wonderful things God has done and is doing in my life so that I can give due thanks to God.

Make friends with the Holy Spirit and He will always cover your back.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 14, 2021

It is a question of trust. To trust or not to trust.

"The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him [Jesus], seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.  He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8: 11 - 12).

Monday 15th February 2021, in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time ends on Tuesday and we enter the holy Season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 17th.

The Pharisees touched the nerves of Jesus in our key Scripture for today. How will you feel if your teenage children confront you one day and ask: "When at last will you give us a birthday?" You will be angry because you have been planning and executing beautiful birthday parties every year for sixteen years.

In asking Jesus for a sign, the Pharisees committed the grave sin of the Israelites in the Desert. They witnessed the historic miracle of the Red Sea. They were fed daily with meat and sweet bread. Yet they rose in rebellion against God threatening to march back to Egypt.
God was angry with them. Who would not?

The Pharisees were part of the educated class and knew the Scriptures and the signs Isaiah laid out for recognizing the Messiah: He will open the eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf. He will perform numerous miracles and will teach the people the knowledge of the Lord.  He cast out many demons.  Why then did they provoke Him by asking for a sign? Hardness of heart and pride.

It would appear from the Bible Timeline that the one Sin that offends God deeply is the Sin of Unbelief. Unbelief rolls a number of grave sins into one: ingratitude, ignorance of God and His ways, willful blindness, gross unreasonableness and others.

I do ask the Lord for signs from time to time and He has been gracious in opening my eyes to see the signs that are there all along. I have asked: "Lord are You with me in this project?" The sign the Lord usually gives me is the Sign of the Emmanuel. "I am with you always." Think of it. This is the greatest Sign in Sacred Scripture. Why? All the great Bible characters received this Sign.  If God is with you, then the mission is accomplished. If God is with you, then No fear, No worry, No doubt. All you need is trust.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Leprosy is a symbol of deadly sin.

"A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mark 1: 40 - 41).

Sunday 14th February 2021, in the 6th Week of Ordinary Time. Last Sunday before the holy Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 17th February.

Lent is all about Metanoia, Conversion. The Scripture Readings in this Sunday's Liturgy prepare our minds and hearts for a good Lent.

In the Gospel, our key Scripture, Jesus heals a leper by touching him and said: "I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus wants to touch us too during the coming 40 Days of Lent.

The second Reading explains to us modern people the drastic consequences of leprosy on the unfortunate individual in the early Israelite history:
“The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:  45 - 46).

Leprosy is a symbol of Sin. Our Sins are invisible to our mortal eyes but not to God. Some saintly Confessors have the gift of seeing the state of one's soul. They describe some nasty sights that remind us of the man "full of leprosy."

"The Responsorial Psalm 32 encourages us to deal with sin with Confession:
"Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the Lord,” and you took away the guilt of my sin." (Cf Psalm 32).

To have a good Lent, you need a good plan. To have a good plan, you need some time in prayer seeking light and guidance from the Holy Spirit. The reward of a good Lent is huge.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, February 12, 2021

Mary as Warrior.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (Genesis 3: 15).

Saturday 13th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

#1. Who is the woman in our key Scripture?
#2. Who are "they"?
#3. How does the woman fight?
#4. What is the witness of history to the woman's place in the history of the Church?

#1. Although Christian tradition has speculated endlessly as to the identity of the "woman". In this reflection, we follow many Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church in saying that the woman in question is Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. She is full of grace whose Son Jesus will redeem the world from sin. No surprise that Christians see Genesis 3: 15 as Protoevangelium, the Gospel-in-Genesis.

#2. Following #1 above, we can identify "They" as Jesus and Mary. Mary is the perfect disciple of Jesus and the only person who witnessed the unfolding of the Gospel from the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel to the Crucifixion to the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday. And this is no accident.

#3. How does Mary wage war against the sworn enemy of mankind? The humble Virgin of Nazareth fight with the weapons provided by God: "The weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments" (2 Corinthians 10: 4).

Mary has been honored in the Church as: Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of Angels, Queen of Martyrs, Tower of David. She is a seasoned warrior in the fight against Satan and evil. The weapons she uses are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses of Evil.  (Cf 2 Corinthians 10: 4). They are the weapons the Church uses and recommends:

Prayer, Word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Reading, Faith sharing.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 11, 2021

How Satan seduced Adam and Eve.

"The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (Genesis 3: 6).

Friday 12th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

The first Reading is the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve that caused the Original Sin. Adam and Eve were created pure and innocent.
#1. Why did Satan succeed in seducing them?
#2. How did it happen?
#3. What are the consequences of the Fall?
#4. What is the divine Remedy?

Scripture says that Satan is the most cunning of all the animals. He convinced Eve that he was telling the truth and that God was keeping something back from them. As Satan spoke, Eve was thinking in her mind: good fruit, pleasant, delicious and desirable. Moreover the fruit will make her wise, knowledgeable and admired. She fell for the lie. She ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to her husband.

The consequences of this rebellion are the war between the body, mind and soul that results in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  Every man and woman can attest to this. The Church teaches that one of the grave consequences of the Fall is the damage to the relationship between the sexes. Women try to manipulate men and men are prepared to use violence to get what they want.

What then is the divine Remedy?
All things are created twice. The first creation is from below. Adam and Eve represent the first creation.
The second creation is from above. This is what happened at Pentecost. Jesus says that we must be born of Spirit and water to gain eternal life. This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost.

This second creation is far superior to the first creation. The Church sings in Easter Vigil: "O Happy Fault" that brought the Redeemer who opened the door of Paradise for us and made it possible for the Holy Spirit to live inside us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” (Mark 7: 28 - 29).

Thursday 11th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is also a Day of Prayer for the Sick.

In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14 year-old Marie Bernarde Soubirous  in Lourdes, France. She was to become St Bernadette Soubirous. The first apparition was followed by seventeen others. Many healing miracles happens in Lourdes. Lourdes has become a major pilgrimage center in the world.

We have a miracle of healing in the Gospel Reading for today.
Who is involved? A Greek woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon. There are three lessons on her interaction with Jesus:
#1. She heard about Jesus the Healer and she believes that Jesus could help her.
#2. When she met Jesus, she shows her faith and reverence by bowing low before Jesus.
#3. She was not easily put off by Jesus' initial hesitation to cure her daughter. This woman has what we may call persistence, lingering and staying power.

We need all three attributes to make the most of our encounters with Jesus.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Be careful of what you allow into your mind.

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 20 - 23).

Wednesday 10th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Scholastica (480 - 547). Italian. Religious nun.  She founded the Benedictine Nuns that continue to serve the Church for 1500 years. Scholastica is the twin sister of the great St Benedict. St Scholastica is the patron saint of education, convulsive children and  Benedictine Nuns.

Where is the source of all these sinful habits in you and in me?  Lust, theft, murder, adultery,  wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, abusiveness, pride, recklessness and thoughtless behavior, and others.
Jesus says that they all come from inside the mind. Thoughts, words and actions defile a person and food does not defile.

Psychologists have recognized the importance of the mind in behavior:
Sow a thought, you reap a deed.
Sow a deed, you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, you reap a character.
Sow a character, you reap a destiny.

What cleanses the heart?

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 20 - 23).

Wednesday 10th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Scholastica (480 - 547). Italian. Religious nun.  She founded the Benedictine Nuns that continue to serve the Church for 1500 years. Scholastica is the twin sister of the great St Benedict. St Scholastica is the patron saint of education, convulsive children and  Benedictine Nuns.

Where is the source of all these sinful habits in you and in me?  Lust, theft, murder, adultery,  wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, abusiveness, pride, recklessness and thoughtless behavior, and others.
Jesus says that they all come from inside the mind. Thoughts, words and actions defile a person and food does not defile.

Psychologists have recognized the importance of the mind in behavior:
Sow a thought, you reap a deed.
Sow a deed, you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, you reap a character.
Sow a character, you reap a destiny.

What cleanses the heart? 

The word of God. 

David after his adultery prayed:
"Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Create in me a pure and clean heart." (Cf Psalm 51).

If you pray the above prayer every day, be ready to be surprised by mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

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David after his adultery prayed:
"Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Create in me a pure and clean heart." (Cf Psalm 51).

If you pray the above prayer every day, be ready to be surprised by mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 08, 2021

Let us create mankind in our image and likeness.

"God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.  (Genesis 1: 27 - 28).

Tuesday 9th February 2021, 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

What can we learn from the story of creation from Genesis to nourish us?

#1. Human beings are the only thing God created in His image and likeness.  This truth lays the foundation for the rest of the story of man in the Scriptures. God gave man free will and never curtailed or interfered with man's liberty.

#2. God gave humans dominion over the works of His hands.  This is an incredibly important fact. If man wants to destroy his natural environment through selfish abuse, he is free to do so but the consequences will be dire.

#3. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 
(Genesis 1: 27).
It is irrational to speculate that male and female are exactly the same in everything except for a few physiological features.
God purposely created man and woman equal ontologically but different physiologically and psychologically. Each being attuned to its grand purpose in the logic of creation.

#4.  "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1: 28).
Man is the crown of God's creation. But Genesis Chapter 1 describes the first creation. The second creation which happened at Pentecost is not an update but the plan.  Man receives the Holy Spirit to live inside him. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us into the image of God. He endows us with the attributes of God:
Wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, holiness and reverence.
I like the way St Augustine puts it:  "God became man so that man will become god."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 07, 2021

The Feast of St Josephine Bakhita.

"Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed." (Mark 6: 56).

Monday 8th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time. We celebrate the feast of two saints today:
++ St Josephine Bakhita (1869 - 1947). Sudanese. Virgin and Religious. Josephine was brought to Italy as a slave. By Divine Providence, she became a sister of the Canossian order. Her exemplary and holy life was noticed. She bore patiently and heroically her last illness. Pope St John Paul II brought her relics to Sudan where she was canonized in 2000. St Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and victims of human trafficking.
++ St Jerome Emiliani. (1481 - 1537). Italian. Priest. Jerome was wayward as a young man. When he was surprised by grace, his life changed 360 degrees. He founded a religious congregation (Somaschi) which looked after the sick, the poor and orphans and abandoned children. St Jerome Emiliani died of the plague while ministering to the afflicted.

In our key Scripture for today, we observe again the importance of faith in healing. The woman with the issue of blood was full of faith and desire to be healed. She quietly crept behind Jesus and touched the hem of His clothes. She was instantly healed.  Prominent doctors tried but could not help her for twelve years. It is likely that the people of the village in Mark's narrative today knew of the story of the woman with the issue of blood. They brought the sick on mats to where Jesus landed in a boat. Like catechists, they prepared the sick to come to faith through testimonies of healings by Jesus. The sick who believed and touched Jesus were healed instantly.

What is the lesson here?
You may make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe or Medjugorie. Without faith, you may come back disappointed.

The spiritual law here is simple to grasp. Whenever anyone in need comes to Jesus with expectant faith, he receives whatever he needs in accordance with the will of God. In all the pilgrimage sites mentioned above, many have received physical healing. Others have received spiritual and emotional healing. "All ate and were satisfied."

How is this so?
"Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes." (Romans 12: 2).

In God's will in our peace. How? Because God knows what is best for us not just today but for eternity.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 06, 2021

How Jesus prayed.

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed." (Mark 1: 35).

Sunday 7th February 2021, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus heal Peter's mother-in-law.  After sunset on the same day, Jesus went on a healing spree: casting out demons and healing many with various diseases. In this reflection, we want to focus on the prayer habits of Jesus. We start by making some point blank statements:

#1. Prayer is a priority for Jesus and not an after thought. He connects with His heavenly Father through prayer. We connect with Jesus through prayer.
#2. No prayer, no power for ministry.
#3. Jesus prayed in a solitary place. Other translations describe the place as: a desert place, a secluded place, a lonely spot, a place where He could be alone, a place in the wilderness, etc. We get the point. Not in Starbucks Coffee.

Spiritual writers write about the 3 S of Prayer:
#1. Sacred Place: We see this in today's Gospel.
#2. Sacred Time: We also see this in Mark's narrative. While everyone is snoozing, Jesus slipped out of the house to seek solitude in prayer.
#3. Sacred Intention: The intention is always the same. Communion with the Father.

To pray like Jesus, we must realize that Prayer is a sacrifice we must be willing to make. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Prayer a battle. The devil wages an intense war to dissuade us from Prayer. St Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists and Bishop and Doctor of the Church writes that if you pray, you are saved. If you do not pray, you are lost

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Friday, February 05, 2021

The Feast of St Paul Miki and Companion Martyrs.

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6: 31).

Saturday 6th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Paul Miki of the Society of Jesus (+ 1597). Japanese Priest and his companion martyrs. They were stabbed with spears while raised on the cross.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus acted as a compassionate boss. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” You do not find such a behavior in the corporate world. It is work, work and work. If you fall dead, you will be replaced immediately.

Leisure is an important command in the Bible. God in His love ordered the Sabbath Rest so that people could have one full day for rest after working for six days. The Israelites experienced no rest as slaves in Egypt. No rest, no retirement. You work until you drop dead. There used to be little rest for the worker during the Industrial Revolution until the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII in 1891, Rerum Novarum called society to its responsibility to workers.
Jesus anticipated the Encyclical when He said to His disciples:

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted placement."

Man does not live on bread and money alone. The spirit and mind of man need to be nourished as well. If a balance is not maintained, there will be burnouts, breakdowns and crashes. This is the lot of some pastors. This need not happen because Jesus said: "Without Me, you can do nothing." The work is the Lord's.

In the Responsorial Psalm 23, Jesus has a great promise for us:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul."

Do not refuse the rest, the leisure provided by the Lord Jesus.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com